For some of us, painting a room is a commitment that involves near obsessive compulsive behavior. We bring home endless stacks of paint chips and multiple sample pints and agonize over the monumental implications of going one shade darker or lighter.
Yet experts like Lori Shrum of April Grace Interiors & Fabrics want to change the way we choose interior paint colors. "Painting doesn't have to be overwhelming," she says. "We had one client who was overwhelmed by choosing paint colors for her living room and breakfast area. She must have put 15 to 20 paint chips on the wall and just couldn't find the right one. We came over and within literally 10 minutes we found the right color scheme."
Interior designers like Shrum make it seem easy because of the depth of knowledge they bring to each project. "As a designer, our value to our clients is that we've seen this color. We know what it is going to look like, and we can envision the best way to use it if they just trust us to translate it in their home."
So where do designers look to choose the right interior color? They look to homeowners. "You can find inspiration by looking at your existing furnishings, artwork or area rugs, or choose one of your favorite colors" Shrum explains. "Color is very personal and very soulful."
It also influences how we feel. "Color does have a real impact. Color can make us happy or sad. When we put it in a room, it can change the way we engage in the space," she says. Some effects of color are almost universal. "Red is a very passionate color. Putting red in a dining room is said to increase your appetite. If you're a highly energetic person, you may not want to put red in your bedroom, because your mind will keep racing, which may not be the best idea if you're trying to get some sleep. For a bedroom, a more soothing color is a good choice. A restful color like robin's egg blue paired with an earthy, soothing brown like chocolate or latte can be a very calming combination. In children's rooms, yellow is full of life and energy, orange is radiant and happy, and green can be inspiring."
Since color is so personal, trust your own taste to be your guide. "In certain areas, like powder rooms, you can pull trendy colors in; just make certain they're colors you love. If blue is the hot trend, but you hate blue, don't put it in your house."
To avoid dating your home, reserve trendy colors for easily switched, high impact pieces. "When you're painting the room, paint the walls a color you love, like an earthy brown. Then accent with pillows or artwork in that trendy shade, like spicy oranges or cranberry."
Most importantly, "don't be afraid to take a bold step. There are very few home decorating projects that can have as much impact and change the entire look of a room in just a few hours and as inexpensively as changing the color of walls," Shrum says.